Department of Psychology Recent Research Outcomes - Spring 2012

Development of a Conformity Scale
Kyle Burkhart, Amy Shurak & Katherine Winters-Hazen

The purpose of this study was to develop a new scale to measure conformity. The researchers defined conformity as having three facets: social pressure, social approval, and a lack of original thinking. The researchers scale used a Likert format and consisted of 20 questions on a 1 to 5 scale. It was possible to score as low as 20 or as high as 100. Convenience samples of participants were surveyed from a small catholic university in West Virginia. A total of 50 participants (43 female and 7 male) were surveyed and their scores were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations and factor analysis. Factor analysis revealed three components. A correlation matrix showed a statistically significant negative correlation between year in college and total score. Reliability analysis revealed a Cronbach's Alpha score of .630. It was predicted that because college takes students away from their parents and place of origin, at some point they are required to question the norms that they have conformed to and may be the cause of the negative correlation in year in college and total score. Validation studies could include a study analyzing scores on a measure of rebellion compared to scores on our conformity scale as a way to establish divergent validity, or a correlation between real world behavior and our study to establish criterion validity. Future developments of this scale would include removing questions that didn't correlate well with the total score, adding more questions, and removing questions that didn't get a range of scores. This scale could be given in a wide range of ages to establish better reliability and acquire a broader range of information on conformity through the life stages and factors that may contribute to a high level of conformity.

Humor Scale: Distinguishing between slapstick and witty humor types of humor
Erin Cannon, Megan Jarvis, Cassy Sanderson, Ben Siefert

There is a variety of research regarding humor. The present study is an attempt to develop items that will help differentiate between two specific types of humor, witty and slapstick. Twenty survey items, ten of each type of humor, were generated. The surveys were given to 64 undergraduate student participants. The factor loadings of the forced factor analysis of two components show that the witty and slapstick items were differentiated. The reliability of the test as a whole and each component is in the range of .767 to .878. By reconstructing a few questions, this scale of witty and slapstick humor may be used to determine which type of humor is more appealing to a person.

Mental Health Services for Diagnosed Schizophrenics in the Wheeling, West Virginia and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Surrounding Areas
Alaina Antoinette, August Capiola, Sierra Moore, and Rachel Stahl

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects individuals across the world despite cultural differences in afflicted persons. The job of the research team was to investigate the diagnostic criteria related to schizophrenia and its impact on the individuals diagnosed with hope of educating the class on the disorder as well as exposing any shortcomings within the mental health industry of this area, should there be any. Researchers investigated the health care provided for schizophrenics through medical statistics gathered in the Ohio Valley region as well as statistics from a UPMC branch in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Researchers found that statistics related to accounts of schizophrenic populations in both the Ohio Valley region and the Pittsburgh area were difficult to uncover. Through first hand accounts of certain individuals that either worked or were treated at institutions, researchers found that facilities in Pittsburgh were more adequate compared to the Ohio Valley area. Future development of the Ohio Valley area's mental health facilities may benefit from modeling facilities after the Pittsburgh area institutions. 

Schizophrenia: It's History and Implications for the Ohio Valley
Tiffany Henderson, Nick Cotter, Amy Pinkerton, and Amy Shurak

The psychological pathology, schizophrenia has been present since antiquity. This disease has been a public health concern from ancient Egypt ("History of Schizophrenia," 2012) to the dementia praecox of the eighteenth century and the contemporary diagnosis of schizophrenia in the Ohio Valley Region. Throughout history there have been many treatments for schizophrenia reflecting the ideologies of each era including exorcism, lobotomy, and psychotherapy. Despite all of these efforts however, no known definitive treatments has been found for this pathology. The numbers of individuals that have schizophrenia is unknown but presently are estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health to be about 1.1% of the total population within the United States of America. Based on these statistics, a need for resources for treatment and support is present in the Ohio Valley Region.

Alzheimer's Disease Portrayed Nationally in Comparison to West Virginia
Kelley Asbury, Kyle Burkhart, Angela McNulty, and Ben Siefert

The purpose of the Alzheimer's disease research was to gain a better understanding of the effects of the disease in the state of West Virginia as well as nationwide. Information was found by utilizing internet data bases that included statistics of all of the diagnosed individuals with Alzheimer's and general information on the initiatives the state of West Virginia has taken in order to diminish the growth of the disease. One of the key documents found was the West Virginia Alzheimer's Registry where individuals have their information sent to when diagnosed with the disease. It was found that West Virginia has one of the highest prevalence's of the disease due to its older population. The growth of the disease in West Virginia is said to rise by 25% by the year 2025. With this increase, the state will take a dramatic economic hit in the medical field since the cost of treatment will rise to above $9 billion. The importance of this study was to find out the economic and health impact the disease will have on the future of West Virginia. If more research is not done on the disease and finances are not being set aside for the treatment and cure of the state of West Virginia, there is a chance that the disease will only grow and worsen.

The Effects of Cinnamon Scent on Motivation Applied to a Physical Therapy Regimen
Jessica Florian, Kristin Johnson, Sierra Moore, Allison Burke & Bryan Raudenbush

Scents have been shown to elicit both emotional and physiological responses. The current study aimed to evaluate the possible effects of cinnamon scent when applied to a physical therapy regimen. Forty-two undergraduate students, 16 males and 26 female, completed a four trial physical therapy regimen in one of two rooms: a control room or a room infused with a cinnamon scent. The experimenters measured participants' range of motion, POMS ratings, and STAI ratings prior to and following each trial of exercises. At the end of each visit, participants also completed the NASA-TLX. The data were analyzed using a 4 (visits) X 2 (groups) mixed design ANOVA. Significant results were found for ratings of effort on the NASA-TLX (F(3, 120) = 2.8, p = .042). Participants in the cinnamon scent condition rated their perceived effort exertion as being lower than participants in the control condition. Decreased perceived effort may cause patients undergoing a physical therapy program to feel more comfortable while completing their exercises, thus increasing the likelihood of adherence to the program.

Differences Between Personality Characteristics and High and Low Frustration Groups as Correlated with Physiological Measures
Kelley Asbury, Augist Capiola, Jessica Florian, Megan Jarvis & Sierra Moore

Past research has indicated that high levels of neuroticism are related to higher levels of frustration and higher blood pressure. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationships among personality characteristics, frustration levels, and physiological measures in response to a frustrating task. The study included 62 undergraduate students (21 males and 41 females) aged 17-23. Participants completed the Big Five Personality Inventory . The participant's blood pressure and pulse were assessed prior to completing a frustrating task. Upon completion, blood pressure and pulse were re-assessed and the participants completed the NASA-TLX. Data were analyzed using an independent samples t-test and correlations. Participants in the high frustration group scores significantly higher on neuroticism than those participants in the low frustration group. A significant positive correlation was also found between systolic blood pressure and mental demand on the NASA-TLX.

Effects of peppermint scent administration on augmenting cognitive and creative performance
August Capiola, Lucas LeMasters, Bryan Raudenbush & Sierra Moore

Level of creativity has been assessed in a number of ways, including interactions between body and environment on creative thinking. Environmental richness has been shown to interact with creativity, with greater levels of environmental richness leading to more creative responses. The present study attempted to determine if peppermint scent administration could promote creativity, since past research with peppermint scent reports improved performance on clerical tests, thus hinting at the possibility for cognitive enhancement. Participants completed the Torrance® Tests of Creative Thinking, a standardized test measuring creative thinking abilities, in both a non-scented condition (control) and a peppermint scented condition. Different versions of the test, as well as the conditions, were counterbalanced. The data were subjected paired samples t-tests, with condition (peppermint, control) serving as the independent measure and raw scores of fluency, originality, elaboration, abstractness-of-titles, and resistance-to-premature-closure serving as dependant measures. There was a significant difference between the conditions for fluency [t(33)=-2.41, p=.02], originality [t(33)=-2.13, p=.04], and elaboration [t(33)=-7.38, p=.00], with all measures having higher scores for the peppermint scent condition. Implications suggest working conditions for those individuals with occupations that require creative thinking and problem solving may benefit from peppermint scented working conditions.

Effects of food neophobia on salivary pH, cortisol and adrenal level
August Capiola, Bryan Raudenbush & Amanda Schultz

Food neophobics (individuals reluctant to try novel foods) and food neophilics (individuals with an overt willingness to try novel foods) differ in several physiological aspects. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) tasting ability, a genetic predisposition, differs among the two groups with more food neophobics possessing this inherited trait. Food neophobics salivate less when presented with novel foods and have higher physiological stress responses to novel foods (increased pulse, GSR, and respirations). The present study assessed salivary pH, adrenal level and cortisol level in food neophobics, food neophilics and an average group, to determine whether such salivary flow and physiological stress reactions could partially be explained by such variables. Salivary mouth swab samples were obtained from 117 participants, who also completed the Food Neophobia Scale (FNS) to assess level of food neophobia. A significant MANCOVA result was found, F=2.47, p=.03. Further analysis revealed food neophobics had significantly higher levels of salivary cortisol compared to food neophilics and the average group, F(2,102)=7.53, p=.001. The finding that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are present in food neophobic's saliva supports past research indicating a greater physiological stress reaction to novel food stimuli in these individuals. Future research should assess whether exposure to novel foods can decrease the level of salivary cortisol in food neophobics, as a way of promoting a more varied and healthful diet.

Differences in Salivary pH and General Health Status Among Individuals who were and were not Breast-Fed
Bryan Raudenbush, August Capiola & Amanda Schultz

Past research shows positive effects of breastfeeding during infancy. The present study investigated adult salivary pH, adrenal level, and cortisol level, as well as general health indices, of 107 participants who were either breast-fed or not breast-fed as an infant. Data were subjected to independent t-tests, with group (breast-fed vs. non-breast-fed) serving as the independent measure and physiological measurements (salivary pH, adrenal level, and cortisol level) and general health indices serving as dependent measures. A significant pH difference was found between groups, with breast-fed individuals having more acidic saliva, t(106)=-2.24, p=.03. Differences between groups were also found for measures of health-consciousness [t(64)=-1.78, p=.08], health-status [t(64)=2.01, p=.05], healthiness-prevention [t(64)=-1.65, p=.10], and health-depression [t(64)=-1.79, p=.08]. Individuals that were breast-fed showed higher health consciousness, higher health status, higher health prevention, and lower health depression than non-breast-fed individuals. Implications of these results may influence mothers to consider their child's future general health in adulthood when deciding to breast-feed or use formula milk.